3 Recommended for Supreme Court Vacancy

The Governor's Commission for Judicial Appointments today recommended Jeffrey S. Bivins, Linda W. Knight and Larry K. Scroggs as candidates to fill the Tennessee Supreme Court position being vacated this summer by Justice William C. Koch Jr. The three now go to Gov. Bill Haslam for consideration. View each candidate’s application at the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Today's Opinions

Click on the category of your choice to view summaries of today’s opinions from that court, or other body. A link at the end of each case summary will let you download the full opinion in PDF format.

00 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
03 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR
00 - TN Supreme Court - Disciplinary Orders









You can obtain full-text versions of the opinions two ways. We recommend that you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. 1) Click the URL at end of each Opinion paragraph below. This should give you the option to download the original document. If not, you may need to right-click on the URL to get the option to save the file to your computer.


TN Court of Appeals

IN RE: KARMA S. C.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Daniel Kidd, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Krishena Montalvo

James R. LeFevor, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Emily Marie Graham and Henry “Shane” Graham

Judge: HIGHERS

The trial court terminated Mother’s parental rights on the grounds of abandonment for willful failure to visit and willful failure to support. We vacate the decision of the chancery court and we remand for further findings.


THE SJR LIMITED PARTNERSHIP v. CHRISTIE’S INC. ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeffrey C. Smith, Memphis, Tennessee, and William L. Charron, New York, New York, for the appellant, Christie’s Inc.

Thor Y. Urness, Edmund S. Sauer, and Kristi M. Wilcox, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, The SJR Limited Partnership.

Judge: STAFFORD

In this case, we are asked to determine whether this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this interlocutory appeal from the trial court’s denial of Appellant’s Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12 motion to dismiss. The Tennessee Uniform Arbitration Act, Tennessee Code Annotated Section 29-5-319, grants Tennessee appellate courts subject matter jurisdiction to consider interlocutory appeals only in specifically enumerated circumstances involving arbitration agreements. The statutory exceptions include appeals from orders denying an application to compel arbitration, and appeals from orders granting an application to stay arbitration. Because the order appealed in this case is simply a denial of a Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12 motion to dismiss, it does not fall within the statutory exceptions. Accordingly, this Court does not have jurisdiction to consider the appeal. Dismissed and remanded.


KENDRA KUEBLER VACHON v. CLAUDE VACHON
CORRECTION: Page 1 of the original opinion filed February 27, 2014 incorrectly, listed Timothy L. Easter as the trial court chancellor. The attached opinion has been corrected to show Robbie T. Beal as the chancellor.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert E. Lee Davies, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Claude Vachon.

Rose Palermo, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Kendra Kuebler Vachon.

Judge: DINKINS

This is a divorce appeal. Husband appeals the classification, valuation, and division of certain items in the marital estate, the award of alimony in futuro, and the requirement that he pay a portion an expert witness fee. We vacate the classification and valuation of the furniture which is at issue, vacate the valuation of the stock and the 401(k), and remand those matters for further consideration. We affirm the court’s decision to award alimony, but vacate the award of alimony in futuro and remand for further consideration of the type, amount and duration of the award. We affirm the court’s ruling in all other respects.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE V. CAREY FAUGHT

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Kimberly A. Parton (on appeal) and Sam Smith (at trial), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Carey Faught.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; Randall Nichols, District Attorney General; and Ta Kisha Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Carey Faught (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of aggravated burglary, employing a firearm during a dangerous felony, reckless endangerment, two counts of attempted aggravated robbery, and two counts of especially aggravated robbery. The trial court merged the two convictions for especially aggravated robbery and the two convictions for attempted aggravated robbery. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of forty-eight years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction. He also argues that his conviction for employing a firearm during a dangerous felony violates principles of double jeopardy. Finally, the Defendant contends that his sentence is improper. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BENJAMIN KEITH FOWLER

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Mike Whalen, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Benjamin Keith Fowler.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Kevin Allen, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

A Knox County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Benjamin Keith Fowler, of six counts of first degree felony murder, two counts of criminally negligent homicide, two counts of especially aggravated burglary, one count of attempted aggravated robbery, and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The trial court merged the homicide verdicts and imposed two convictions of first degree murder. The court also merged the especially aggravated burglary verdicts and imposed a single conviction of that offense. In this appeal, the defendant contends that prosecutorial misconduct and the behavior of a State witness deprived him of the right to a fair trial, that the trial court erred by admitting certain testimony, and that the trial court erred by prohibiting the admission of certain evidence. Although we discern no error with regard to the issues presented by the defendant, we observe plain error with regard to the defendant’s conviction of especially aggravated burglary. Because dual convictions for first degree felony murder and especially aggravated burglary in this case are prohibited by statute, the defendant’s conviction of especially aggravated burglary is modified to a conviction of aggravated burglary and remanded to the trial court for resentencing. The judgments of the trial court are affirmed in all other respects.


KENNETH R. GRIFFIN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Clifton Corker, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kenneth R. Griffin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Counsel; Tony Clark, District Attorney General; and Kenneth C. Baldwin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: BIVINS

Kenneth R. Griffin (“the Petitioner”) was convicted of first degree murder and especially aggravated robbery. The Petitioner subsequently filed for post-conviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. Following a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. The Petitioner now appeals. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MICHAEL SCOTT KNERR

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; Emma Rae Tennent (on appeal), Gary C. Tamkin, and Melissa Harrison (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Michael Scott Knerr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Bret T. Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Michael Scott Knerr, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury in counts 1 and 2 for attempted aggravated rape, in counts 3 and 4 for aggravated sexual battery, in count 5 for attempted especially aggravated kidnapping, and in count 6 for attempted aggravated kidnapping. A jury convicted Knerr of the lesser included offenses of attempted sexual battery in count 3, attempted aggravated sexual battery in count 4, and attempted false imprisonment in count 6 and acquitted him of the remaining counts. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court merged count 3 with count 4 and sentenced Knerr to four years with all but sixty days suspended. In addition, the court imposed a concurrent sentence of six months with all but sixty days suspended for Knerr’s conviction for attempted false imprisonment. On appeal, Knerr argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions for attempted aggravated sexual battery and attempted sexual battery. Upon review, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed in part and vacated in part, and the case is remanded to the trial court for entry of a corrected judgment.


Senate Confirms Reeves for Federal Judgeship

Knoxville lawyer and former TBA President Pamela Reeves this afternoon received unanimous full Senate confirmation to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Reeves, who will be the first woman to hold the judicial post, was nominated by President Barack Obama to replace Judge Thomas W. Phillips, who retired in July. Knoxnews has the story.


Senate Blocks Obama’s Pick for Civil Rights Division

The U.S. Senate today rejected Debo Adegbile, President Barack Obama’s nomination for Department of Justice assistant attorney general, PBS NewsHour reports. In a 47-52 vote, seven Democrats joined Republicans against Adegbile, who currently serves as Senior Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. President Obama called the Senate’s block a “travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant.”


Drug Court Finds Those Lost to Meth

The Davidson County Drug Court program serves some 200 current and recovering drug addicts, one in 10 of whom are there because of methamphetamine. Led by Criminal Court Judge Seth Norman, the program is widely hailed, boasting a success rate of more than 60 percent, the Tennessean reports. While alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and even heroin users typically take a little more than a year to complete the program, meth addicts take about 24 months, Norman tells the newspaper.


Nashville Law Firm Announces Relocation

The Nashville law firm of Ortale, Kelley, Herbert & Crawford will relocate its offices effective March 17. The firm’s new address will be 330 Commerce Street, Suite 110, Nashville 37201. All telephone numbers and email addresses remain the same. The firm is online at www.ortalekelley.com.


Attorney Appointed to Hamilton County Election Commission

Former Hamilton County Election Commission attorney Chris Clem was appointed today by State Election Commissioner Judy Blackburn of Morristown to fill the seat being vacated by Tommy Crangle. Crangle is seeking the Tennessee House District 27 post being vacated by state Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga. The Chattanooga Times Free Press has more.


Knox County Chancellor Faces Opposition

Knox County Chancellor Daryl Fansler has drawn opposition for the first time since being elected in 1998. Fansler, a Democrat who presided over the 2007 case in which the Knox County Commission was sued for violating the state’s open meetings law, will face lawyer Clarence E. “Eddie” Pridemore, who is running as a Republican. Knoxnews has more.


Veteran Prosecutor Enters DA Race

Veteran prosecutor Jared Effler has qualified to run in the Aug. 7 election for 8th District Attorney General. Encompassing Campbell, Claiborne, Fentress, Scott and Union counties, the 8th District does not have permanent or full time offices in all five counties — a situation Effler says he wants to rectify, the Claiborne Progress reports.


Former Assistant DA Seeking Circuit Court Judgeship

Chal Thompson has announced his candidacy for Circuit Court Judge, Part 3, for the 10th Judicial District in the May 6 Republican primary, the Cleveland Daily Banner reports. Thompson cited his 27 years of experience as an assistant district attorney, his seven years serving on Drug Court, along with his total 33 years as a practicing lawyer, as qualifications for the position. The Part 3 circuit judge handles criminal cases, along with the criminal court judge.


Sumner County Judicial Race Draws New Candidates

Three Republican candidates are seeking to fill the 18th Judicial District Circuit Court judgeship vacancy created by the sudden death last week of C.L. “Buck” Rogers. Gallatin attorneys Mark Smith and Joe Thompson had qualified to run as Republicans for the seat of Chancery Court Judge but have withdrawn to seek the Circuit Court judgeship. Hendersonville attorney and former White House municipal judge Charles Bobbitt Jr. is also running as a Republican. It has yet to be determined if independent candidate Thomas Boyers V of Gallatin will be allowed to run in the Aug. 7 general election. The Tennessean has more.


Memphis Law Hosts ‘Race Judicata’ April 5

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law Student Bar Association will host the annual “Race Judicata” on April 5. All proceeds benefit Memphis Area Legal Service, which provides free legal service to the elderly and low-income families. The race is open to the public. Runners and walkers are welcome. For more information or to register, visit www.racejudicatamemphis.org.


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About this publication: Today's News is a compilation of digests of news reports of interest to Tennessee lawyers compiled by TBA staff, links to digested press releases, and occasional stories about the TBA and other activities written by the TBA staff or members. Statements or opinions herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tennessee Bar Association, its officers, board or staff.


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